I have been a hand spinner since the late 1990s. In that time, I have created a lot of handspun yarn. Like most hand spinners, I have not used up all of what I have spun. With that in mind, I decided that April 2017 will be the month of cold sheeping with handspun.
The handspun cold sheeping idea came to me when I was going through a very large bag of yarn that was hand-dyed with natural dyes. Much of that yarn was natural white yarn that I had spun from roving or from a fleece that I processed.
I grabbed some light brown yarn that was spun from an East Friesian fleece I had acquired from Wooly Acre Farm, in Lisle, New York. Although East Friesian sheep are considered a dairy sheep, their fleeces can also be used for handspun yarn. It is a medium grade wool with a relatively long-staple length. It is great for hard-wearing boot socks and outer garments. The wool is very springy, has a slight luster to it, and spins up very nicely. It also takes up dye very well. The spun yarn produces beautiful stitch definition due to it’s springiness. It is great for cabled and texture-stitch garments.
I am making socks from the yarn I spun and dyed in 2002, Talk about well-aged stash! It is a worsted weight yarn. I decided to make a pair of socks from this. I have about 290 yards of this yarn, more than enough for socks.
I started working on the S-06 socks on April 2, 2017. I always knit my socks from the toe up because I could never get the kitchener stitch to look right. I blamed that on my being left-handed.
I use a basic toe-up pattern that I developed for myself. It starts with a figure-8 cast-on for the toe, then increasing to the number of stitches needed for the foot. I chose to do a K1P1 rib for the instep and cuff. I also use a short row heel.
I am using US size 3 (3.25 mm) needles for the socks. Normally, for commercial worsted weight yarn, I use US size 4 (3.50 mm) needles for socks, but since handspun can have some minor inconsistencies, resulting in a slightly “thick & thin” yarn, going down one needle size works best resulting in a consistent stitch gauge. I do the same thing for sweaters and other garments knitted with handspun. That little rule of thumb has served me well over the years to get garments that fit.
I am now working on the cuff, and hope to get the first sock finished and the second one started this weekend. Socks work up very quickly when knitted in worsted weight.